Whether you’re a business leader or an everyday employee, communication is an essential skill that can launch your career to the next level — if harnessed correctly. The power to communicate can better your relationships with your clients and colleagues, move you forward with projects and increase your opportunities for success in your industry.
But while communication comes naturally for many professionals, for others, it takes a bit more practice and intention to get right. To offer their advice, 12 members of Young Entrepreneur Council share their best tips for professionals looking to improve their communication skills and progress in their careers.
1. Be Honest
Sharing honest opinions in a respectful manner will allow people to always know where they stand with you and, more importantly, allow people to know they can trust you. Trust is a big part of communication.
2. Find Commonalities
Finding a common interest or perspective with your partner is usually a wonderful tactic, making the conversation more fun for both of you and showing your partner that you have something in common. Try to discover a related topic that you agree with when you disagree with somebody; it will demonstrate you are attempting to comprehend their views.
3. Study Others
Learn from the successful communicators. Observe established podcasters, interviewers, speakers or talk show hosts. Pay attention to their mannerisms and interactions with the guests and audience. Study their good habits, talk styles, choice of words, use of analogies, how they listen to others, etc. From there, absorb what you have learned and try to apply it when you communicate with others.
4. Record Yourself
One way to become a better communicator is by recording yourself. When you can step back and listen to yourself objectively, you can identify areas for improvement. For instance, if you notice that you use filler words like “uh” or “um,” you can quickly identify this pattern and resolve it through mindfulness by listening to yourself speak.
5. Practice Public Speaking
I am a nonnative English speaker, so I experienced challenges daily in making myself clear because of my accent. Becoming a public speaker was not only an accomplishment, but it also catapulted my communication style from comprehensible to crystal clear. I use each word deliberately, accurately and pay attention to context, which is my nonnative secret to communication.
6. Cut the Fluff
If you want to be a better communicator, cut the fluff. Too many details can make your conversation boring and, honestly, most people don’t even care about them. So be specific in making your point unless the listeners benefit from the minute details. Make the best use of your time before your listeners lose interest, especially in a group setting. This will make your conversation more interesting.
7. Listen With Intent
No matter who you are, a key to good communication is to listen and to listen with intent. This is often called “active listening,” but really, it just requires you to show an interest in what the other person is saying and to ask for their input and feedback. When you are engaged in a conversation with someone, be attentive, and this, in turn, will allow you to better communicate with them.
8. Be Timely
To become a better communicator, make sure you voice your concerns as soon as possible. The longer you wait to tell people how you feel, the more it’ll fester and could possibly turn into a bigger issue. The second something bothers you, speak up about it even if you don’t know the exact reasoning. It helps others to know how you’re feeling so they can empathize and find a solution.
9. Ask More Questions
To become a better communicator, you need to overcome the fear of asking questions. If you ask questions the right way, you’ll make people more comfortable and it can help you get access to secret “insider” information. Good communication should be built on trust, so a phrase like “I’d like to understand better…” can help avoid frustrations and burning bridges.
10. Host More Video Calls
If you want to improve your ability to communicate, I suggest hosting more video calls with your team. The ability to see one another and read facial expressions is so important for strong communication. When there’s a big event coming up or a one-on-one meeting, always opt for the video call if you want to get better at talking to your team.
11. Be Open and Transparent
Having a meaningful conversation is all about making a connection with the person you’re talking to. People are more likely to connect with you if you lay your cards on the table and let them see your true self. This can happen only when you are transparent with them. Don’t pretend to know things you don’t, don’t lie to them and always be honest.
12. Read Books
You can improve your communication skills by reading books. Books help you expand your vocabulary while giving you a fresh perspective on everything from business to politics. Sometimes, a look through the eyes of someone else can inspire and help us identify new ways to communicate.
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.